By now some of you may have read the interview in Christianity that seems to have stoked something of a debate whether Mark Driscoll has anything to say to the church in the UK or not. I ought to reread the article again sometime, but from my first reading I thought he had some courageous things to say that need to be said and need to be heard. We're very quick to defend ourselves when maybe we ought to be taking a long cold look at the reality of our situation.
To balance things up, if you've read the article or just the tweets and blogs, then you might like to read what the man himself had to say about it and a helpful piece by Don Carson too. I thought Don Carson's reflections were particularly helpful and balanced, and you can read them here. Mark Driscoll's comments are on his blog here.
Mark Driscoll calls for clarity of doctrine, courage in preaching, and some objective thinking about men and the church. We ought to listen to that challenge. Generally, as evangelicals, we've got our doctrine sorted out, although there is always room for differences. How big those differences are and how healthy they are is not at issue here. I think the issue issue is how far they distract us from the core call of the church to reach those far from God. To be honest, I think it's naive to think that one's position on say women in leadership, is wholly responsible for our ineffectiveness in reaching men. There's far more to it than that.
What Don Carson does in his reflections is to remind us that Yorkshire is different compared to London (well we all knew that anyway!), and in reminding us of that points us to a reality that success is not necessarily in the numbers. Good things are happening in our country and innovation is alive and well despite institutional barriers and cultural challenges. Mark Driscoll openly acknowledges these differences too.
Overall, we're in danger of yet more knee-jerk reactions to things said by people who are passionate about the kingdom and actually care about the future of the mission of God in the UK, just because we don't like Jonny Foreigner trying to tell us what we're doing wrong and how we could do better. Perhaps the voice from the outside is just what we need so that we can see more clearly from the inside. Thank you to both Mark Driscoll and Don Carson for caring enough to say what they see and for raising the standard of hope around which I hope we can all gather.